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An Honor to Serve

I've been surprised and incredibly humbled by all those who have sent me notes and messages today thanking me for my military service. I remember my father, a Vietnam veteran, telling me how strange receiving such thanks felt to him and not knowing how to respond. Like him, I've found myself at a loss for words several times today.

A song, written by Ray Boltz (a Christian musician and proud gay man), captures best what I wish I could say to all those who've so kindly expressed their gratitude to me. It tells the story of Jeremiah Denton, a naval aviator who spent almost eight years in a POW camp and survived unspeakable torture before being freed in 1973. When he arrived in the Philippines, he said,

"We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America." 

That's how I feel about my service - it was an honor.

I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to serve in the U.S. Army. I'm grateful for the example of service above self set for me by my father, Command Sergeant Major (retired) Donald Robinson, my grandfathers, Technical Sergeant Elston Robinson and Sergeant George Conley, and so many others. I'm grateful to have served with so many exemplary soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, especially my classmates in the West Point class of 1994. Among them, I'm particularly grateful for the example of my wife, Captain Danyelle Robinson, who served under more difficult circumstances than I with courage and distinction. Finally, I'm grateful for the friendship and camaraderie of my fellow LGBT veterans, and particularly my transgender brothers and sisters who proudly wore our nation's uniform.

To my former comrades in arms with whom I disagree on many of the issues of the day, on this day I thank you, too, for your service. I'm grateful to have stood alongside you in the defense of our country, a country where our freedom to disagree is enshrined in the law. Like many of you, I have stood on the soil of countries where this is not the case. Like you, I'm so grateful to have had the chance to return home, especially when so many of our friends did not. We honor their memory, I believe, when we strive to make America an even better place to live, even when that striving pits us against one another.

Recently my eldest son has been talking about attending the United States Naval Academy and becoming a sailor. I will confess the thought of him in harm's way frightens me in ways I've never known before, and losing him - or any of my children - would be a loss I don't know how I would bear. And yet, I believe he is beginning to feel in his heart the same stirring of the call to selfless service that I first felt at his age - the call that led my grandfathers to the skies over Europe and to the Pacific, that led my father to Vietnam and to Kosovo, and that led me to Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. For that, too, I am grateful.

Thank you, friends, for your kindness today. It was truly an honor to serve.

It's an honor to serve, to join in the fight,
To lift up my voice, to lay down my life.
Giving glory to God, seeking none in return,
It's an honor, an honor to serve.

By Allyson Robinson, OutServe-SLDN Executive Director |